The attack at the Ataturk airport in Istanbul on Tuesday took over 36 lives and injured more than 150 individuals, according to reports. This was the latest in a long string of terrorist attacks in Turkey, and since the country is a NATO member and has been assisting America to fight against terrorism (along with other NATO countries), the way that U.S. politicians react to the Istanbul attack means everything. If only because far too often, especially during the frenzied American presidential election season, it's easy to forget that fighting terrorists means fighting them everywhere.
Turkey is not some far away place. It is as close as Orlando, as Paris, as Belgium, as any other place, in terms of American interests and hearts. The attack on Tuesday at the airport and the attacks earlier this month in a downtown Istanbul neighborhood are just as related to the terrorism that Americans worry about. Turkey is a NATO ally. They applied for membership into the European Union in 1999 and have been working towards approval since 2005, because they see the benefits of having allies (unlike some Brexit voters).
Part of their "initiation," in addition to getting their finances in order, is allowing America and other NATO countries to fly planes over their country so that they can target ISIS enclaves in Syria and throughout the Middle East. When someone attacks Turkey, just like in Paris or Belgium, they attack Americans. Or at least what American politicians say they're fighting against.
Former secretary of state and presumptive Democratic nominee for president Hillary Clinton responded early on Tuesday after multiple bombs went off at the Istanbul airport. "We must deepen our cooperation with our allies and partners in the Middle East and Europe to take on this threat," she said. She added that "cooperation is essential."
On the other hand, presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump tweeted twice. When, he wondered, "will the world ever realize what is going on?"
He then added that Americans need to keep terrorism out of the country.
The thing is, the world knows what's going on. Keeping "horrible terrorism" out of America isn't the goal. The goal should be, it seems clear given various international coalitions and decades of foreign policy, to try, the very best America and its allies can, to prevent and defund terrorism every chance it gets. This is not the time to pander. And it's also not the time to play a game about what "counts" as terrorism depending on the location of the blasts, as Trump seems to suggest.
If anything, it's an election season, and how politicians respond to this latest attack can tell you everything.